Week in Review: All Eyes on Europe; AI and Tech Drive Interest

Travel to Europe by Americans will surge this summer, according to Allianz Partners, which found that travel across the pond will be up 55 percent over last summer. The travel insurance company found that the reigning No. 1 destination, London, England, will welcome 25 percent of this year’s bookings, with Paris, France (No. 2) and Dublin, Ireland (No. 3) rounding out the top three most popular vacation spots in Europe.

The new statistics follow last year’s 600 percent increase in American travel to Europe from 2021 to 2022, making it clear that revisiting European favorites and new destinations after years of restrictions remain a priority for American travelers.

To that end, ALG Vacations announced a major expansion to its Europe program. In a recent survey conducted by the brand, 84 percent of advisors have seen rising demand for the region in the past year, and 62 percent said their clients expect to spend $2,500 or more per person on their air and hotel.

What can you expect? ALG Vacations has added more destinations, airline partners, transportation options within Europe, destination management services and Hyatt Inclusive Collection Resorts, plus more.

Along those lines, Hyatt opened four new all-inclusive hotels in Bulgaria recently: Secrets Sunny Beach Resort & Spa, Dreams Sunny Beach Resort & Spa, AluaSun Helios Beach and Alua Helios Bay. These openings mark the entry of the Inclusive Collection into a third European country, complementing the existing presence of Hyatt’s all-inclusive resort brands in Spain and Greece.

Secrets Resort & Spa Sunny Beach, Bulgaria Preferred Room
A Preferred Room at Secrets Sunny Beach Resort & Spa (Photo by Hyatt)

Separately, in Italy, Toscana Resort Castelfalfi has officially reopened following the most comprehensive renovation in its history. The 146-room and villa resort is sporting new public spaces, guestrooms and suites, and a brand-new restaurant Olivina, with Chef Davide De Simone at the helm. La Spa, reopening in fall 2023, will offer an indoor/outdoor infinity pool, traditional rituals and contemporary treatments.

When it comes to emerging destinations, the Faroe Islands now has a direct route from the United States—the first ever. Atlantic Airways, the Faroese national carrier, will connect New York Stewart International Airport (SWF), less than 90 minutes from New York City, with Vágar Airport (FAE) in the Faroe Islands. The service will begin as a seasonal route from August 22 through October 4, 2023; it will run once a week, on Wednesdays to the Faroe Islands, and Tuesdays back to New York.

Looking towards 2024, when Paris will host the Summer Olympic Games, travelers can book Hospitality and Travel packages through exclusive provider On Location. What to know? For the first time in the history of the Olympic Games, the Opening Ceremony will take place outside of a stadium, along the Seine River. This allows spectators to view the Opening Ceremony from iconic Paris landmarks.

Luxury, Tech and Artificial Intelligence

TravelSavers is forecasting double-digit sales growth across its business, especially in the premium and luxury segments, the network shared at its recent “OwnersRetreat” in Montreal. Advisors are experiencing an increase in premium and luxury sales, with luxury revenue pacing 32 percent higher than 2022. Expedition cruising is particularly vigorous, with sales up 78 percent from last year.

Owners’ Retreat_Travelsavers
Advisors and suppliers meet at TravelSavers' "Owner's Retreat" in Montreal. (Travelsavers)

Separately, tourism leaders attending the MarketHub Americas by Hotelbeds have reported that artificial intelligence (AI) and technology will be their top strategic priority for 2023.

On AI, Nicolas Huss, CEO of Hotelbeds, said, “There’s no doubt that the whole travel ecosystem can benefit from this technology: It can not only improve customer service, but also provide an elevated personalized experience by remembering preferences and automatically implementing them each time an individual books their next trip.”

Also on the advisor front, Travel Leaders Network reported that it delivered a record 215,000 leads to its members last year. This number represents a 43 percent growth from 2021 and a 24 percent growth from the pre-pandemic high of 2019. These leads represented $324 million in sales with preferred supplier partners and $39 million in commission earned by members.

In addition, by the end of Q1 2023, members had received 97,000 leads since January 1, 2023, putting lead generation numbers on the path to surpass 2022 by 54 percent.

Big news: Questex, publishers of Travel Agent, announced this week that it has agreed to assume management control of the NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference from the NYU School of Professional Studies (NYU SPS) starting with the 2024 edition. The conference complements the largest hospitality real estate event in the world, Questex’s International Hospitality Investment Forum, which connects capital with real estate and operators annually in Berlin, Germany. It also fits well with The Hospitality Show, a new hospitality event that brings together industry leaders and procurement specialists, created in collaboration with the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

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